More Attractions in Washington D.C.
Washington, D.C. is crammed with world-renowned landmarks that document and celebrate the political heritage of the United States. Luckily for tourists, much of the leading attractions are located side-by-side along the National Mall, making this two-mile stretch a useful starting point for your visit to the capital.
Highlights of the National Mall include the White House, U.S. Capitol and U.S. Supreme Court, which are collectively known as the three houses of government. Given their impressive architecture, these landmarks offer stunning photo opportunities for holidaymakers, and if you plan ahead, various tours are available inside the buildings too, although foreign nationals must reserve tickets to the White House through their embassy.
Many of the spectacular monuments and memorials on National Mall honour leading historical figures who have played an instrumental role in shaping the United States, such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Junior, while others focus on specific events, including the Vietnam War and Korean War. Try to visit these attractions during the evening, as the wow-factor is further enhanced by tasteful illuminations, plus there are fewer crowds.
Finally, why not explore some of the Smithsonian Institution museums on the National Mall? The government-supported institution has established an extraordinary collection of free public museums, which are very popular with tourists. In fact, with so much variety, it’s a struggle to visit them all. Instead, select the ones that best match your interests, with popular options including the National Air and Space Museum (famous for its extensive collection of U.S. spacecraft and IMAX screenings) and the National Museum of Natural History (well-known for showcasing complete dinosaur fossils). For more details, head over to the Smithsonian Informational Centre, a distinctive red sandstone building located on the National Mall.
With so much ground to cover, useful maps have been placed throughout the National Mall, especially near the metro stations. In addition, you can visit one of the well-known observation spots for a breath-taking panoramic view. Some of these are free, such as the Old Post Office Tower in the east side and the Kennedy Centre Rooftop Terrace on the west side. Perhaps the most spectacular views, however, can be found on top of the Washington Monument, which is the centerpiece of the National Mall and the tallest structure in Washington, D.C. with a total height of 555 feet (169 metres).
Of course, tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. are not limited to the National Mall. With a pleasant location north of Potomac River, the historical neighborhood of Georgetown is also popular with tourists, full of old-fashioned colonial buildings, shopping outlets, international restaurants and a stunning waterfront. Another family favourite, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) national park, is spread along the Potomac River’s north bank and offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. A visit to the Rock Creek Park is also worthwhile, especially for picnics, walking and biking, with 2,000 acres of thickly forested hills, full of deer, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and birds.
Washington, D.C. hosts several free public events throughout the year, such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival, National Kite Festival, Screen on the Green, Shakespeare Free for All, and Smithsonian Folklife Festival, many of which are held on the National Mall. You can also attend a live musical or concert at venues such as the John F. Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts and the Wolftrap Farm Park. Sporting activities have a loyal following too and Washington D.C. has a professional team in each of the five major U.S. professional sports, so enthusiasts can round off their sightseeing by watching the Washington Redskins (football), Washington Wizards (basketball), Washington Nationals (baseball), Washington Capitals (hockey) or D.C. United (soccer) in action.